The England Roses fell short against the Australian Diamonds in their second Quad Series game on Wednesday, despite taking a strong lead in the first quarter.
The first meeting between the two sides since the Commonwealth Games final was a fast-paced and intense affair.
England took the first centre-pass and Helen Housby opened the scoring but the Diamonds stayed hot on the Roses’ heels for the first few minutes.
England created several chances to take charge in the opening quarter and Housby continued to establish a strong scoring momentum, setting the pace for the rest of the game.
The Roses made a notable mark with a 14-11 lead as the first quarter came to an end.
Serena Guthrie showed her class at the start of the second quarter, reading the game well to set England on the attack and Natalie Haythornthwaite got us up and running.
The Roses held a 15-11 lead but the Diamonds began to respond in kind and got fired up, slowly closing the gap.
A run of five unanswered goals – four from Caitlin Bassett and one from Steph Wood – saw Australia not only draw level but then establish a three-goal lead.
As the Roses sought to re-establish their grip on the game, Tracey Neville made a change with Haythornthwaite coming off, Housby changing from GS to GA and Kadeen Corbin coming on as GS.
England and Australia went goal-for-goal in the last five minutes of the second quarter and at half time the game was finely poised with the Diamonds leading 26-24.
Australia got the game underway again taking the third quarter centre-pass. Their speed and accuracy across the court paid off with Caitlin Bassett adding to her tally and the Diamonds taking the score to 29-26.
A few missed opportunities for England meant that the ball was returned to Australian hands on a few occasions and they were clinical.
In the last eight minutes of the third quarter Jade Clarke came off and Ama Agbeze came on as GD for the Roses with Layla Guscoth moved to WD, while Haythornthwaite took the WA bib from Chelsea Pitman.
The Roses continued to battle hard but the Diamonds increased their pressure and in turn their advantage. Sharp shooting from Gretel Tippett left the third quarter at 41-34 to the Diamonds.
Corbin opened up the scoring in the final quarter, which was shortly followed by two changes for England with Pitman back on as WA and Jodie Gibson taking the WD bib from Guscoth.
Geva Mentor and Agbeze put in a strong defensive effort but the Diamonds continuously worked their way through the court stretching their lead and setting the tempo for the remaining minutes.
The last quarter remained tense but, despite the whole team remaining composed and fighting to plug the gap, the Diamonds proved too strong and secured a 52-47 win.
The England Roses will be back in action on Sunday 23rd September for their final match of the Quad Series, when they’ll face South Africa SPAR Proteas in Melbourne.
England’s starting 7: GS – Housby, GA – Haythornthwaite, WA – Pitman, C – Guthrie, WD – Clarke, GD – Guscoth, GK – Mentor
Australia’s starting 7: GS – Bassett, GA – Wood, WA – Browne, C – Ravaillion, WD – Simpson, GD – Weston, GK – Bruce